Natural history of a northern population of twin-spotted rattlesnakes, Crotalus pricei

David B. Prival, Matthew J. Goode, Don E. Swann, Cecil R. Schwalbe, Michael J. Schroff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The twin-spotted rattlesnake (Crotalus pricei) is a small-bodied pitviper that has received little attention in the literature to date. The species reaches the northern limit of its range in southeastern Arizona, where it inhabits higher elevations than any of the state's 10 other rattlesnake species. During 1997-2000, we captured, measured, and marked 127 C. pricei in Arizona's Chiricahua Mountains between 2530 and 2900 m elevation. We also used radiotelemetry to track the movements of 16 C. pricei in the study area during 1997-1998. Mean (± SE) snout-vent length of C. pricei was 387.8 ± 8.3 mm (range = 168-572), and mean mass was 53.5 ± 3.3 g (range = 3.6-188.5). Based on fecal analyses, lizards constituted the bulk of prey (74%), but the diet of C. pricei also included mammals, birds, and a conspecific. Mating was concentrated in August and early September and parturition took place during late July and August. Mean number of embryos was 3.94 ± 0.34 (range = 1-6) and female reproduction appeared biennial or less frequent. Based on shed and growth rates, female C. pricei develop embryos at 4-5 years of age. Gravid females maintained warmer body temperatures relative to substrate temperature than nongravid females or males, presumably by spending more time basking than other snakes. Radiotelemetry revealed that movement patterns varied from year to year, as males moved over six times farther per week during the 1998 monsoon season (July to September) than during the 1997 monsoon season. Additionally, use of talus slopes by males decreased during 1998. During dry years, such as 1998, males may be forced off talus into cooler microclimates where resources are less concentrated than on talus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)598-607
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Herpetology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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